Opening up a whole new landscape

Book facts: Sri Lanka’s Other Half: A Guide to the Central, Eastern & Nothern Provinces; by Juliet Coombe and Daisy Perry
“Far from the war-ravaged zones, mass graves and internment camps presented by the international media, this book reveals the other side of the story, introducing a place that contains some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, ancient jungle ruins, pristine rainforests, wildlife parks with the largest elephant gathering of the world and huge mangrove lagoons bursting with exotic flora and fauna” says the introduction to “Sri Lanka’s Other Half”.

Launched recently at a simple ceremony held at Nuga Gama, Cinnamon Grand Hotel, this book by photojournalist Juliet Coombe and Daisy Perry is an exhilarating guide for the adventurous traveller to the North, East and Central Sri Lanka, covering areas that have been shut off to tourism due to the civil war for over 26 years.

Ruins in Jaffna  

If a book can make a big difference in the minds of the tourists luring them to this beautiful island; “Sri Lanka’s Other Half” can definitely be placed in the front of the campaign. “This book makes you want to drop everything and go immediately before it all changes” says Steve Dave – BBC best selling author of ‘Unforgettable Places to see Before You Die’.

But I prefer to call the guide kahambiliya. Like you start itching when you touch the kahambiliya plant, after reading the “Other Half” you start itching to go to these places and explore them. The language in the guide is so captivating you feel like you are travelling along with the writers while reading it.

It is not only the tips on how you should travel around, the book also explores the life of the people and tells interesting stories that will keep coming to mind whenever you visit that area. The guide can be used by up-market tourists as well as back-packers for the writers with their team of young explorers had even done the bus journeys so as to have the real feel of exploring these areas.

The writers were, in fact, among the first travellers to the North soon after the war. Juliet Coombe was eight months pregnant at the time she made her road journey to Jaffna carrying her two-year-old son Samad. A well-known BBC Lonely Planet photographer Juliet is married to a Sri Lankan and lives in Galle Fort.

“The aim of the book is to highlight that travel is for everyone whether you are young or elderly, a mum, pregnant, an independent traveller or a crazy adventurer,” says Juliet. Juliet and Daisy discovered that North, East and Central Sri Lanka certainly have something for everyone.

I’m among thousands of fellow Sri Lankans who want to travel Jaffna, but have no idea where to begin. The guide gave me enough tips from preparation to accommodation to where to find the famous Jaffna ice cream parlours, giving me the confidence to visit the unknown area.

Like its language, the photographs in the book all have their own character. The ‘Other Half’ is full of photographs and interesting stories. The war is over and tourism is already experiencing a revival. “Sri Lanka’s Other Half” carries a welcome message to all those who wants to visit this beautiful island.

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